Kingdom. Simply put, this is the message Jesus proclaimed, but it was not unique to Jesus. John the Baptist proclaimed this message too. Both announced the reign of God here on the earth. Preparing the way, John the Baptist proclaimed the Kingdom was made manifest in Jesus being Lord over all things living out the will of God. Wherever God’s will is being done, that is where the kingdom is manifested—perfectly in Jesus.
However, historically many really smart guys and bible college students have debated whether the kingdom is fully present today, an entirely future reality, or both future and present. Some application of this very real tension is lived out in how we “do church.” This now, but no yet has lead to several movements like The Simple Way in Philadelphia, PA, or Joel Osteen’s name it and claim it teaching. It has also led to people sitting around waiting for heaven with little love and little action on behalf of others. The New Testament is full of people swinging from one extreme to the other attempting to apply this tension, so it is not unique to us today. However, they also lived in such a way that declared the kingdom is a present reality, but not fully reality.
If you lost me, practically speaking, “we have access to the benefits of the kingdom (The Spirit, shalom, righteousness) but these things are not yet fully realized in or around us” (M3 Training Handbook).
So why should we seek first the kingdom of God? Isn’t the Great Commandment to love God and love others? Isn’t the Great Commission to make disciples who make disciples?
In actuality, these are not separated from one another. Rather, I think these converge on the second command in Matthew 28:20. The command is the Greek word idou, translated as “And surely” or “Behold.” Meaning that we live out the mission of making disciples when we keep our eyes on Jesus because he has all authority in heaven and on earth and that authority is with us always even until the end of time.
I love how Vance Pittman, Pastor of Hope Church in Las Vegas NV, puts it. “God’s primary call on your life is not ministry, it’s intimacy.” God calls us to being a relationship with him that leads to more of Him in our life and less of us.
“Then He went up the mountain and summoned those He wanted, and they came to Him. He also appointed 12—He also named them apostles—to be with Him, to send them out to preach [repent the kingdom is near], and to have authority to drive out demons [proving the authority of Jesus]” (Mark 3:13-14).
When we seek the kingdom we primarily seek Christ.
In this life, our charge is to fully utilize all that has been made possible by Christ who gives us access to the kingdom. Through grace by faith, we are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, so we must live and think this way. If we really seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and the pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” Everything we do must shift. We have a mission that only works when we abide in Him.